Whatever happened to being a class act?

Conan O'Brien: I like him and expected better from him.

Lately I have been hard put to understand the behaviour of some of our more privileged citizens, or perhaps I should say, over-privileged citizens.
As I watched the snarking and swiping match between Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno over their respective TV shows and contracts I had to wonder whether they were blind to world events. There was a time anyone would have been embarrassed to fight over that amount of money in public, never mind during a major world tragedy such as the situation in Haiti. In the not too distant past, a decent and classy person would not have engaged in mudslinging over what most would consider an obscene amount of cash during one of the worst recessions in history.
Let me be clear darlings, I don’t begrudge them their money. I am not a regular viewer of either show. Truth be told, I haven’t watched much late-night TV talk since Johnny Carson ruled the night. At one time I was way too young to be watching him, but I couldn’t resist the glamour. I used to sneak into the living room as a child to see real stars on Johnny’s show – glamorous glitzy celebrities such as the Gabor sisters, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren. Heavens! Those women were fabulous! Johnny was a clever and elegant host. I watched him until Bette Midler sang him off into the night. It was a classy a goodbye for a classy guy. Johnny Carson negotiated legendary contracts while at NBC. They made him very rich, but he did it without brawling. Cool Mr. Carson had a few famous feuds, but none of the nastiness that today’s comics seem to find de riguere. I know comedy is about one-liners, but these days things have become a little too nasty to be amusing.
Leno and O’Brien have been not only classless, but graceless. I am sure it is disappointing, if not insulting, to lose The Tonight Show after less than a year. It can be argued that the failure is not Conan’s alone, as Jay’s 10 o’clock disaster set off a chain reaction of bad ratings that killed the entire NBC late night lineup. Perhaps, but does that excuse two self-indulgent grown-ups behaving as if the world revolved around the two of them alone?
Conan O’Brien’s letter about his situation was classy; I liked where he said no one should feel sorry for him as he had spent 17 years getting paid to do what he loves. I also liked it when he said didn’t want to devalue a great show or hurt his friend Jimmy Fallon. Conan’s farewell show was also a smash. He made a touching speech about hating cynicism. I thought it was nice, but it would have been nicer without the nastiness that led up to it. I confess I like Conan, but I thought it wasn’t worthy of him. I wanted better from him.
I think is a shame he didn’t let the lawyers fight for his $30-odd million settlement and stuck to classic Conan humour. That would have been classy. Granted the ratings have been never been higher. But to be fair, Conan and Jay had plenty of company when it came to behaving badly.
John and Elizabeth Edwards: Please just stop -- both of you.Just when I thought John and Elizabeth Edwards couldn’t get any tackier, they topped themselves. John Edwards has come out and “claimed paternity” of his two year-old child. What kind of a man takes two years to take responsibility for his own child? He has cheated, lied, and lied some more. Does anyone believe he would have come forward even now, if not for a book by his former aide, Andrew Young, due out later this month?
Edwards’s former aide has written a tell-all book about an elaborate cover-up. He claims Edwards, his then boss, asked him to participate in a bizarre scheme to claim paternity of Edward’s mistress Rielle Hunter’s daughter. To think this man was actually a serious contender for the office of president!
Elizabeth Edwards, who claims to be a Southern lady, wrote a book to tell her side of this scandal, thus stirring up more unsavoury publicity. That is far from ladylike or maternal. In the book and a subsequent interview with Oprah, she confessed she considered the child of “no significance to her life”. Her coldness was frightening. She also confessed that she had felt no obligation to make her husband step down from his campaign even after learning about his affair. She maintained this stance even when Oprah asked her if she had not felt a responsibility to the Democratic Party.
I have no use for those who break up marriages or any desire to comment on how the Edwards’s or anyone else conduct theirs. But, is there no limit to the things that people will make public, and is no end to our appetite for them?
Sure, the media is complicit. I know I am not the only one who is bored out of my mind with tales of Tiger’s infidelities and subsequent rehab. Yet I must say, I find his wife Elin‘s behaviour admirable. She has been refreshingly discreet and private. Couples and individuals who endeavour to remain private are subjected to ruthless and pointless scrutiny.
Classless behaviour runs rampant through our society. People speak before they think and often share too much information. From sore losers to braggarts, classless behaviour has too often become the norm. In a sticky or difficult situation, the classy thing is usually to say very little.

Sleep yourself sexier, smarter,

According to Ellen Michaud, author of the acclaimed book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart, and Slim, sleep may well be a combination of a miracle cure and the fountain of youth. She is not alone. Most medical experts agree that sleep is essential for well-being, beauty, and top mental performance. Some experts believe it may even be the key to youth. 
Yet too many women still think the ability to function with little sleep is an accomplishment. Wrong! Like multi-tasking, it is way of shortchanging yourself and your health.
That’s why we decided to reprise our exclusive interview with Ellen Michaud. If you too are sleep-deprive, you may be amazed at how many women are suffering a sleep debt and why. Ellen Michaud has all the answers, fact, and figures about the sleep debt.
DD: Just how bad is the typical woman’s sleep debt? How many of us do you estimate are not getting enough sleep?
EM: It’s amazing. Surveys in which researchers actually take the time to talk to women indicate that some 75 percent of us are not getting enough sleep. Most of us are deprived of an hour or two each night.
DD: What are some of the worst consequences of being sleep deprived?
EM: The researchers I interviewed for my book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim discovered that the worst consequences are a seriously-increased risk of premature death, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Sleep deprivation also significantly increases the length of labor in pregnant women. A study at the University of California at San Francisco discovered that pregnant women who slept six hours a night or less had 10 hours more labor than women who slept seven hours or more a night. They were also four times more likely to deliver by Caesarean section.
DD: Is it true that hormones can play major role in women’s sleep deprivation? What can we do about it? Are we doomed to suffer through menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause – or is there help?
EM: A woman’s reproductive hormones seem to be the wild card that knocks the brain’s sleep/wake chemistry into chaos. The thing is, the fact that you KNOW that your reproductive hormones are going to disrupt your sleep at certain times – a day or two before you menstruate, during the last trimester of pregnancy, and with the onset of night sweats in perimenopause – makes it easier to deal with them. In fact, there’s a sleep plan for each situation in my book. The most amazing women researchers across the country helped put them together so that every woman can head off hormonally-triggered insomnia.
DD: How bad is it to sleep with a snorer?
EM: Dear God. It’s bad. A study conducted some years ago by the Mayo Clinic revealed that a snoring partner wakes his non-snoring partner an average of 20 times a night – with an average sleep loss of one solid hour a day! That might not sound like much, but it you’re being awakened 20 times a night, you’re not only losing sleep, you’re losing the restorative sleep that rewires your brain and repairs your immune system as well.
DD: Are women as guilty of snoring as men?
EM: My Aunt Ellen says no. My Uncle Arthur says yes.
DD: Can snoring be cured?
EM: Yes. And the first step is to see your primary care physician for a visit devoted exclusively to figuring out why you snore. It could be something as simple as not vacuuming dust from under the bed, or all the grass pollen that drifted in your window while you slept. I will not tell you how I know that. Let’s just say that there’s a new vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter at the top of my birthday wish list this year.
DD: Is taking sleeping pills always bad? Are all sleeping pills the same?
EM: All sleeping pills have risks that range from annoying to scary. But they are not all the same. There’s a chart in my book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim that allows you to compare the risks and benefits. Interestingly, the most effective treatment for insomnia is NOT a sleeping pill. It’s a short term program of cognitive behavioral therapy. And not only is it more effective, an online program is cheaper. Somewhere around $19.95 as opposed to $3 or $4 a pill every night. You can download a program developed by the Harvard researcher who proved its effectiveness at www.cbtforinsomnia.com. The only reason you’ve never heard of him or the program is that Harvard researchers don’t advertise.
DD: Can sleep really help make you thinner and why?
EM: An incredible study of 68,000 women at HarvardMedicalSchool found that women who sleep five hours a night are 32 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds or more as they get older than women who sleep seven hours or more. As to the why, researchers are still working it out. But it may be as simple as the fact that inadequate sleep lowers your levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, while it increases levels of the ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry. Sleep and you feel full. Stay up late and you wake hungry.
DD: Will sleeping better and longer keep you younger?
EM: I’m betting on it!
For more great tips on sleep, see this article by Dr. Frank Lipman http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-frank-lipman/sleep-tips-top-10-sleep-m_b_416809.html

Banish fine lines

Daily use of sun block and targeting fine lines and wrinkles with an effective skin care regime are among the best ways to maintain a beautiful, healthy-looking complexion. Retinol is one of the most effective wrinkle fighters available.
The new Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Intensive Deep Wrinkle Treatment with Retinol combines Retinol with her patented anti-aging formula, MMPi-20 to target fine lines and wrinkles while transforming dull skin into a more radiant complexion. Created by Dr. Wexler, MMPi20 counters the destructive enzymes that cause our skin’s collagen to sag and age. 
According to the company, a clinical study showed the treatment left deep wrinkles looking visibly smoothed, pores instantly minimized, and skin feeling firmer, more elastic and illuminated. 
Dr. Patricia Wexler is a renowned dermatologist whose services are sought by celebrities and socialites. Now, you can you can try her expertise at a fraction of the cost of a visit to her exclusive New York office. Her entire targeted skin care range is available at Bath and Body Works, and online.
Recently, I also tried the Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Anti-Aging Sensitive line. I really liked the MMPi20 Comforting & Renewing Serum created to decrease skin’s reactivity while visibly diminishing signs of aging. It did not irritate my super-sensitive skin at all. After using it for few weeks I can report it does subtly firm and leaves skin looking fresh. I also like the Soothing & Renewing Night Cream. It is very gentle and effective.
Dr. Patricia WexlerThese products are excellent value for money. You can buy targeted products for specific skin issues or try a starter kit for about $40. Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Intensive Deep Wrinkle Treatment with Retinol will be available at the end of the month.

Sleep naturally

As we learned in our Q&A, most of us do not get the recommended 7 hours of snooze time. Yes darlings, you need 7 hours a night of sleep to be bright and beautiful. For nights when you may you need some extra help getting to sleep, why not try a natural remedy?

TheraVeda Organix Sleep Ease contains a holistic formula to send you off to dreamland. It comes highly-recommended by our holistic advisors. Herbal supplements don’t work like pharmaceuticals; they are gentler and won’t give you a drug hangover. To get your full quota of ZZZ’s: Allow yourself time to unwind; try reading instead of TV. Dim your lights and relax. Try to sleep in cool, quiet room. Socks can help many people with cold feet drift off. Earplugs can be a help if your environment is noisy. Try cozy eyeshades, if you cannot darken your room. Most importantly, do not fret. Sleep will come.

Memories from the net

Here’s a very personal book review from our Deb Williams, as she remembers her childhood idol, Andre Agassi:

This isn’t just another book review. It’s a story about Andre Agassi and me. Although we have never met, I grew up idolizing him. Growing up in India, becoming an avid sports fan is the norm. When others played cricket, I chose tennis. I still remember the humid Indian summers spent pounding the courts and practicing my backhand. I did it with great enthusiasm, because like Agassi, I wanted to win a Grand Slam. And like him, while others fine-tuned their aces, I practiced returning serves. But tennis wasn’t encouraged at the time, nor was it a female sport of choice. All that, along with a sudden knee injury playing tennis, brought my career on the courts skidding to standstill.
But my passion for the game never diminished. Like millions of fans, I followed Agassi. I loved him for what he represented. From garish outfits to his first Wimbledon, I considered him great sportsman and a welcome change. When he cried at his last U.S. Open, I cried too. Flushing Meadows will always be André’s home.
A few months ago I was watching the news when the little ticker tape on the bottom announced that André’s new tell-all book revealed that he not only despised tennis, but he also had to fight a drug addiction during his professional career. My world crumbled. This man, who I looked up to, who inspired millions around the world, hated tennis — the very sport I loved so much more because of people like him and his wife, the great tennis star Steffi Graf.
I rushed out and got my hands on the nearest copy of André’s Open. I thirstily drank up every page. It’s a book that will break your heart and then uplift you like no other. It speaks volumes of his character. I understood that maybe even I would not have enjoyed tennis as much as I do, if I had had an oppressive father screaming in my ear every day.
André’s Open follows his struggle not only to find his place in the world of sport, but also himself. This rebel from Las Vegas who dropped out of school went on to become the oldest tennis player to win a Grand Slam. It is definitely a no-holds-barred book, tell-all — from teen-age sweethearts to the regimented trainer who accepted him as a son.
André speaks of his love for helping children and starting The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for troubled children. He discusses his close relationship he shares with his own children. But there is one part of the book where he speaks of his addiction to drugs that will always make me see him in a tarnished light.
Open will leave you reaching for some Kleenex. It is a triumph for Agassi to show the world he was far from perfect. The most touching part of the book is his speech at his last U.S. Open — one I remember well.
“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what I have found. Over the last twenty-one years I have found loyalty: You have pulled for me on the court, and also in life. I have found inspiration: You willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I have found generosity: You have given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams – dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last twenty-one years I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you for the rest of my life.“
Deb WilliamsI do not want to give too much away, but I can say this: even though I was devastated by his statements, I know that come the summer I will still walk onto the tennis court. And as I set up to receive a serve I will spin the racquet just as Agassi did, because he was and always be one of the game’s greatest masters. I will always have tennis and tennis will always have Andre Agassi.

A gift of love and healing

RED supports The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

This Valentine’s Day give a romantic and healing gift from the heart. The French perfumer and candle maker Diptyque and RED  have joined forces to help provide life-saving medication for those living with HIV in Africa.

RED supports The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Since U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and world leaders established the fund in 2002, it has raised US$18.7 billion for programs in 140 countries to battle these three horrific diseases.

The soothing, spicy scent in Diptyque’s candles are derived from certified fair trade vanilla. Diptyque features Indian and Madagascar vanilla along with South African radios in this romantic candle. This elegant, long-burning candle will be a symbol not only of passion and romance, but also of caring and healing. What could be perfect gift of love?
The new Diptyque RED special-edition candle is in stores now and available online at http://red.diptyqueparis.com/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=PRlink&utm_campaign=KPR-JoinRed).

Divorced, daring and dating

Crazy Aunt Purl’s: Home is Where the Wine Is by Linda Perry will have you in stitches, even if you don’t knit, and I don’t. It is yet another divorcée date’s book, but Perry is quirkier and funnier than most writers of this genre. She has an irreverent sense of humour, deftly capturing the anxiety of re-entering the dating pool. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of trying new beauty products. Also fabulous are the knitting patterns she includes, particularly given the popularity of knitted and crocheted accessories this spring. 

This book isn’t for everyone; it reads a lot like a blog, which is not surprising as the author is the writer of a popular blog www.crazyauntpurl.com.  It is the tale of a woman recovering from heartbreak and finding a new life – a story that many women will relate to.

Sweet savoury roast butternut squash

Slow roasted sweet butternut squash

Sometimes you want the vegetable to be the star. Roast butternut squash is just that kind of crowd-pleaser. I am surprised people don’t make it more often. It is full of Vitamin A and has only about 125 calories a cup, after you add the olive oil and spices. It tastes sweet and savoury, and goes well with the simplest meat or fish. If you are too rushed to peel squash, buy it fresh or frozen peeled.
For two
1½ cups peeled squash in ½ inch cubes (freeze extra or buy small baby squash that are easy to peel)
Toss squash with 1 scant tbsp. of good olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh pepper to taste
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1tbsp. sweetener such as Splenda or stevia, or you can use maple syrup
1 clove of peeled, crushed garlic
Toss well
Roast one hour at 350f/180c